Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Long and Thoughful Response to Greg Goodknight, that Rebane's Blog Nearly Deleted

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Rebane asked for closing arguments, and then his blog software refused to "accept the data." I have changed the title of this post to be more precise. He apparently did not deliberately censor the post, but if I were running a blog with as many glitches as his, that was widely in use, (this one isn't) I would definitely have the courtesy to have an FAQ, that listed the hidden foxholes, so that people would not stumble into them. Being somewhat distrustful, especially with Greg Goodknight's calls to boot me off the blog, I copied the post before publishing it or even previewing it.

All sentiments represented in these posts are merely statements of my opinions, and may in fact have no basis in reality. Of course, depending on who you are and what your reality is, your milage may vary... Ripcord for parachute, to escape pesky lawyers, hired by foolish physicists.

I've already summed up several times, and Greg keeps on dragging out his old tired statistics without providing references.

His latest oft-repeated chestnut is:

"Then there's the Federal study that found that the lower the College Board scores of an incoming freshman in college, the higher the chance they'd be teaching 10 years after earning their baccalaureate. K-12 is not where strong students usually choose to have their careers. Probably the highest payout for the least ability, and a union to insure things like lack of competence doesn't interfere with a steady job and good retirement benefits."

For starters, this would seem to indicate that, having completed four years of college, and not all do, including many with higher SAT scores, you are more likely to be teaching than doing anything else. The reality is that there are three million or so teachers in this country. It is a very common profession, and one respected by most citizens, but obviously not Mr. Goodknight. BTW Greg, on your study, what other professions are listed, and once again, where is the link? And what do those other professions pay? More than teachers are paid? Architecture is the only one I know of that pays less.

"Probably the highest payout for the least ability"

What an interestind concept! So a Wall street banker who bags $20 million per year, as compared to a very high paid teacher who makes $100,000 per year, has a lower payout to ability ratio? Just how is that fudge factor statistic derived? Does Greg have a stash of secret formulas? Would you care to show us them, or is this just another typical Gregorian rant gratuitously defaming teachers and unions?

He implies that teachers are practically criminals, conspiring to defraud the public of their hard earned tax dollars, for no value received in return. His presented impressions of teachers as a whole seem to indicate a smug attitude of superiority as a spiritual being, over those who do choose the profession.

Low cunning, those teachers, just in it for a buck, any way they can get it. Not like honorable physicists who merely ask for donations, and are so good their followers shower them with private planes. Such a fairy tale, Greg, who do you think you are kidding? If you thought being a teacher would give you more than enough cash for your desired lifestyle, and you liked doing it, would you have refrained from doing it because of a union? Give me a break!

The real question here is, assuming the very best and brightest SAT graduates all went into teaching, and you booted out all the present teachers, except those like myself who were 90% or higher on their SATs, would this country receive much more for their money than they already do?

This of course would mean pulling all of these folks out of their current jobs as doctors, lawyers and rocket scientists, but after all, Greg insists on having the very best, SAT wise, in teaching. How much cultural inertia would the somewhat higher scoring be able to overcome to produce a nation of rocket scientists? All of it? 50% of it? 20% of it? How would you even know in advance? And most importantly, what is the overall ROI to be gained by such a rerouting of talent?

Greg has yet to show any studies that show that higher SAT teachers make for far better teachers. I'm moderately certain they exist, but Greg's real mission here is to argue for less money for public schools, and he shamelessly uses arguments he knows to be false in the context he references. For this I have no respect, as Greg is obviously smart enough to know what he is trying to pull.

If Greg really thought attracting the higher SAT scoring completers of BA's and BS's, then he'd be arguing for more money for teachers, in both public and private schools, but he never does that. Charter schools have been a round for some time now, and private schools for centuries, but the concept of "merit pay" always hits a double paned glass ceiling: No teacher is allowed to make more than his boss, and no teacher, k12, makes over $200,000 per year. I've challenged Greg in the past to find exceptions, and he always, "moves on to greener pastures," safe from the spotlight of our cultural realities, and his own internal inconsistencies.

If Greg wishes to make snide remarks about teachers in general or myself in particular, in other threads, I will again defend both myself and the profession.



For me the profession was a fall back, but one encouraged by several of my classmates, who were pursuing it, including one who managed 5 800's on a bank of SAT's, taken in one day. My original intentions were to get a PhD in ethnographic cinematography, and produe historial documents and teach, at the college level, but the birth of a child and then a divorce rather soon iced those ambitions, as I was not independently wealthy, and 16 mm film ran $4/minute, and child support and joint custody took up a lot of time, and, in the long run, have more value.


Don Pelton said...

Thanks for the terrific rant.

I had a lot of good teachers growing up, and a small handful of great ones.

The one thing that all the great ones all had in common was a love of their subject so intense that they would practically bubble over with a joy that was infectious.

I still remember Mr. Kowalski, our English teacher at San Leandro High, grinning and almost provoking a riot when he told us that we "weren't quite people yet!" How little I knew then -- and how well I know now -- how right he was.

All the great teachers had an incredibly infectious enthusiasm, a quality that I'm sure had nothing to do with SAT scores. It's possible that anyone who believes the SAT score is all important has not yet had the joyful experience of learning from a great teacher.

SkiTheStars said...

Thanks, Don,

Nice comment to wake up to. There actually is a study that finds a small but significant improvement in test scores if the teacher come from the top one colleges and universities, but I haven't checked out the methodology they used to come to that conclusion.

Greg apparently feels his experience at a public elementary school in re math represents all public schools everywhere. He is ticked at having to send his kid at no small expense to a private school. I have no doubt that were he in Silicon Valley, he would have been spared that expense. I also suspect that he has intertwined a real and horrible tragedy in his life with the math issue. There too much irrational energy there

SkiTheStars said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SkiTheStars said...

Interesting that this comment was looked up by both someone down in Mountain View and then by someone within the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools office. Having some more fun, Greg? Gad but you are obsessive. Only reason I check sitemeter is to make sure that my various relatives are indeed able to use the passwords to see our family pictures.

If suddenly, all the work I've been doing for the District dries up, my lawyer will be contacting them. Have you heard of Guzman in Sacto? I only hire the best.